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Outer Geraldton misses out on new fertiliser production facility as project moves to Three Springs

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Strike Energy plans to build a urea manufacturing facility near its West Erregulla gas project.
Camera IconStrike Energy plans to build a urea manufacturing facility near its West Erregulla gas project. Credit: Strike Energy/Supplied

Geraldton has been passed over as the preferred location for a major new urea manufacturing facility, with mayor Shane Van Styn slamming the State Government for failing to invest in the infrastructure upgrades needed to attract business to the city.

The Project Haber urea plant was to be built at Narngulu near Geraldton, but Strike Energy on Tuesday announced it had secured 3500ha of farmland directly above its West Erregulla gas field near Three Springs that would be ideal for the facility and a broader low-carbon manufacturing precinct.

Strike said the new site would cut $85m from the capital cost of Haber because a 105km gas pipeline from West Erregulla to Narngulu would no longer be needed.

Mr Van Styn said the move was a blow for Geraldton, which would have benefitted from the creation of thousands of new jobs and more people on the ground to bolster the local economy.

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He said investors interested in participating in projects such as Project Haber or the long-talked about renewable energy hub at Oakajee had been deterred by Geraldton’s aging or limited water, roads and power infrastructure.

“This is yet another example of Geraldton losing out because the State won’t develop Oakajee and it won’t upgrade the power from Three Springs to Geraldton,” he said.

“For years we have been lobbying the (Energy) Minister to continue with plans to install the 330Kv line to Three Springs. If we want to attract major industry to Geraldton, we need to have the power, water and road infrastructure to do so.”

But Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan supported moving the project out of Geraldton.

“It really makes sense. (Strike Energy) save themselves an enormous amount of infrastructure dollars by not having to create a new pipeline,” she said.

“To me it seems like a very sensible move and it is all about development in the Mid West, whether it is in Three Springs or in Geraldton.”

The Stuart Nicholls-led company said the Three Springs site would allow for the integration of up to 170MW of on-site renewable energy, including wind and solar, to produce some of the lowest carbon urea fertiliser in the global market, as well as more than 1500ha of carbon farming and offset opportunities.

Along with the potential integration of wind and solar power, the site could also host a research and development grain farm for fertiliser product testing.

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